Peter Rhodes on state aid, red tape and squinting for a glimpse of the Coronation

Jaguar Land Rover’s owner, Tata Motors, has reportedly asked the Government for more than £500 million in state subsidies to build a battery factory in Somerset. Hell, give me £500 million and I'll build a battery factory.

Nice abbey – shame about the views
Nice abbey – shame about the views

“Some of those who do manage to squeeze in would probably be better off staying at home and watching it on the telly.” Private Eye magazine on Westminster Abbey's restricted views of the Coronation. True enough. I was in one of the much-envied press seats for the Charles and Diana wedding at St Paul's in 1981. Couldn't wait to get home and see it properly on TV.

When she appeared on Desert Island discs, the late, great Betty Boothroyd's selection of hits included Ethel Merman belting out There's No Business Like Show Business. Boothroyd was a former professional dancer who brought brassy showbiz glamour into her job as Speaker of the House of Commons. She glittered like a diamond tiara among the dowdy frocks and drab, grey suits of the chamber. She saw daily evidence of the old saying: Politics is show business for ugly people.

The passing of shouty Betty Boothroyd and Mrs Thatcher's noisy, opinionated press officer Bernard Ingham within the space of a few days is a reminder of how colourful politics used to be. We shall not see their like again.

First, would-be migrants have to cross the Channel in rubber dinghies. Next, under the latest Whitehall wheeze, these asylum seekers will be given an11-page questionnaire. The result is the sort of process that might have been dreamed up by It's a Knockout in partnership with the the Open University. But is it a means of cutting the backlog of applicants or simply an amnesty which will encourage yet more horrors in the Channel?

It's probably a bit of both and it will surely gladden the hearts of the yelling, banner-waving no-borders brigade. These are the people who pop up, shouting the odds, at every refugee-rights demo. Some of them seriously believe all borders are evil and that, as we are all citizens of this planet, we should be able to live wherever we choose. It is a principled but naive mind-set and I doubt if one Brit in a thousand agrees with it, no matter how loud the message. You can't measure common sense in decibels.

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